South America Discovered

Depart the United States for arrival into the city of Manuas, Brazil, your gateway to the Amazon. Begin your visit with a tour of the city, viewing some of the mansions owed by rubber barons in the late 19th century and the prestigious Teatro Amazonas. Next morning, board your private vessel for your exploration of the nearby waterways of the Amazon. Cruise to the site for the “Meeting of the Waters,” where you will witness the struggle of the two titans: the Rio Negro and the Solimoes flowing beside each other before blending to form the mighty Amazon.

Your arrival in Rio de Janeiro provides a sense of the pulsating rhythms that permeate the mood of those who live in this carnival city, located nearby what has been described as the most spectacular harbor in the world. While on your luxury custom tour, stroll along the cobblestone streets of Paineiras en route to Mt. Corcovado, site of Rio’s famous landmark, Christ the Redeemer. This evening, enjoy a dazzling Samba performance at one of Rio’s favorite nightclubs where only color and bravado take precedence on the dance floor.

Fly to unforgettable Iguacu Falls. More than 270 cascades form the strength of this natural setting as millions of gallons per minute descend in a truly thunderous display of sheer power and beauty. Soon thereafter, board a zodiac for a thrilling ride to the base at Iguacu. A mid-day departure takes you across the Parna River, used as the border between Brazil and Argentina. Visit the Argentine side of the falls prior to boarding your connecting flight to Buenos Aires. Next morning, begin you city tour, viewing the glory of the splendid architecture of old city hall, the financial district and the Teatro Colon. This evening, you are the invited guests at one of Argentina’s steakhouses followed by a lively performance of dancers and musicians as you experience the “The Tango.”

Wing your way to the European-styled village town of San Carlos de Bariloche. The small-town friendliness of its inhabitants adds to the natural beauty of this winter and summer playground. In the morning, board a cruise boat for a crossing of Lake Nahuel Haupaui. The grandeur of this wondrous environs may leave you breathless while you continue your excursion aboard three separate boats for an early evening arrival into charming Puerto Varas. A morning tour of Puerto Montt precedes your flight to the city of Santiago, Chile. Begin your city tour at the pre-Columbian museum, displaying a most fascinating display of artifacts. Next day, drive to Vina del Mar, Chile’s most popular sea resort. You will savor the flavors of delicious food prepared at one of the most popular beachfront restaurants and perhaps, while enjoying your meal, sample a delectable Chilean wine.

A morning flight takes you to Lima, Peru. Enjoy a walking tour of downtown Lima with its Grand Square and beautiful architecture. One of the highlights of your tour will be a visit to the famous gold museum. Excitement mounts as you wing your way to visit the remnants of the Inca Empire in Cusco and at Machu Picchu. The spectacular Pucara (fortress) of Sacsayhuaman still dominates the landscape with its many tiered walls of sculpted boulders. One of the greatest finds of this century was the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu. A three hour ride aboard the renowned Hiram Bingham Express through the sacred Urubamba Valley places you within the last refuge of the Incas as they fled the conquistadors’ attack upon the city of Cusco. Nestled at 8,000 feet, within nearly inaccessible mountains and almost invisible from the valley floor, this magnificent site comprised over 200 buildings of superbly cut stone. Nature’s beauty blends with the vast remains of the temples, houses and terraces, so well constructed and preserved in a setting so unreal. An overnight at the Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu provides you with a superb opportunity to walk the ruins, empty of other travelers, most of who have returned the same afternoon to Cusco. Enjoy your morning at leisure or in further exploration of the ruins and thereafter, return to Cusco for an evening at rest and relaxation.

A drive across the glorious mountain passes and terraced plantations brings you to the city of Puno, set in the highlands or “Altiplano” on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The nearby “floating islands” are home to the Uros Indians, who offer some of their finely embroidered tapestries for sale at your hotel or nearby kiosks. Next morning, travel along the shores of Lake Titicaca to Copacabana to visit one or two of the colorful churches in the nearby city. After a leisurely lunch, board your hydrofoil for a passage across Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. At Huatajata, acquaint yourself with the Kalawaya folkloric history and their fascination with herbal medicines and black magic.

Visit Tiwanacu, the ancient capital of a former great civilization dating back to 1580 B.C. to see the temples, grand aqueducts and the Sun Gate. Continue on your journey to the fascinating city of La Paz. Enjoy a tour of La Paz, known as the “City of Contrasts.” Highlights include the Indian Market, the San Francisco Church and the Witch Doctor’s Market. A visit to Moon Valley reveals a vast series of monoliths, jagged hills and caves that depict a moon-like setting. All too soon it is time to board your return flight homeward taking with you the many memories of a fascinating adventure across South America.

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South America, the fourth largest continent, is divided among twelve countries, each with a distinct cultural heritage. Originally home to the Inca Empire, it was settled by Portugal and Spain in the 16th century.

Brazil is the largest nation by far, and contains within its borders the Amazon rainforest, home to nearly a third of all plant and animal species on Earth. Despite encroaching urbanization and clear-cut farming, many areas of this natural wonder remain unexplored.

Those who prefer urban adventures will fall in love with the vigor and enthusiasm of Rio de Janeiro, with its European-inspired architecture and friendly people. Many precious stones, such as amethysts and emeralds originate in South America, and deals can be found in the city’s plentiful gem shops. During Carnival, Rio de Janeiro is wild with dancing and frivolity, but all year long the streets thrum with the vitality of a culture that savors life. Not to be missed is the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain. It is an impressive edifice nearly a hundred feet tall, and almost as wide.

Argentina welcomes travelers with its cosmopolitan capital, Buenos Aires. Birthplace of the tango. Enthusiasts of the dance still visit famous tango singer Carlos Gardel’s memorial in Buenos Aries and honor him by placing lit cigarettes between the statue’s fingers. Outside the city limits gauchos raise some of the finest beef in the world, and many a traveler has fueled a night of dancing by first savoring the delights of an authentic Argentinean steakhouse.

Chile runs along the south-western coast of South America and encompasses an amazing variety of climates and topography, including geysers, mountains, beaches, forests and volcanoes. The capital, Santiago, preserves fascinating artifacts in its pre-Columbian museum.

Peru, once the hub of the Incan Empire, contains the treasured ruins of Machu Picchu, a terraced ceremonial city hidden among the clouds of the upper Andes. The Andes highlands are still home to descendents of that once-dominant culture, tribes who live according to the old traditions and speak their ancestral tongue, Quechua.

Among Bolivia’s wonders is Lake Titicaca. At 12,500 feet above sea level, it is the highest-elevation lake navigable to large vessels. It covers 3,200 square miles and provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges. In Incan legend, the children of the Sun, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, emerged from the lake to found their empires.

South America is a magical blend of ancient civilization and bustling metropolises. The experienced guides of First Cabin Travel will smooth your way at border crossings, help with translations and tips about local customs, and help you discover a unique and unforgettable South American adventure.